BY BEN OSHAUGHNESSY
JENA, LouisianaYoung Socialists across the country joined with tens of thousands of other youth September 20 to demand Justice for the Jena Six! Drop the charges! YS members got on buses with other young people to come to the march and rally here, and others participated in local solidarity actions in other cities.
YS members participated in a youth dialogue at the Christian Saints Baptist Church here the night before the march. Young people were asked questions ranging from Why did you come to Jena? to How can you get other young people involved in these fights?
My first protest was after the Rodney King verdict when I was in sixth grade, said Loretta VanPelt, a YS member from Atlanta, during the discussion. I knew after that I wanted to fight for justice. I later got involved in protests against the war in Iraq.
That night, YS members and other young people from Atlanta met up with youth from Jena who explained the social and economic conditions faced by Blacks in the area.
I work at McDonalds for $5.85 an hour. Its either that or work the streets, said a 24-year-old Black worker. Im just trying my best to make a living.
He explained that police harassment and frame-ups are a common occurrence.
This stuff happens all the time around here, its finally getting attention, he said.
René Chum, 22, was one of three young workers with Cajola United in Solidarity with Guatemala, a Guatemalan solidarity organization in Atlanta, who came to the action here with the YS and the Socialist Workers Party. The response to the solidarity from them was overwhelming as dozens of Blacks identified with the struggle for legalization of undocumented immigrants.
One woman came up and told us we need another march for immigrant rights, said Chum, 22.
Many young people at the march were happy to see us. They took pictures with us to show solidarity, he said.
Young socialists elsewhere joined local actions calling for the release of the Jena Six.
At the State University of New York at Albany, about 200 students joined a speak-out organized by the Sigma Iota Sigma multicultural fraternity. Other groups in attendance included the Albany State University Black Alliance, the NAACP, Fuerza Latina, and the Young Socialists.
We need to keep up the pressure until the charges are dropped against the Six, said Ben Joyce, a member of the YS in Albany. He pointed to some of the recent mobilizations for legalization and for end to the raids and deportations as an example for working people and youth looking to fight against assaults from the ruling class. At Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York, 40 students and others rallied. Protesters chanted One standard not two and Injustice in Jena is a threat to justice in Brooklyn, and held signs including First Sean Bell, now Mychal Bell. Sean Bell is a Black youth who was killed by New York cops in a hail of 50 bullets last November. Mychal Bell is one of the Jena Six.
Ben Joyce and Emily Paul contributed to this article from Albany and Brooklyn, New York.
Justice for Jena 6!
Demand thousands at Louisiana rally
Jena 6 protests held across U.S.
Chicago Militant supporters respond to racist vandalism
Jena 6 solidarity actions across U.S. (chart)
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